Ecija vice-mayor accused of raping beauty queen
MANILA, Philippines - Rape charges were filed this morning with the Department of Justice (DOJ) against Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija Vice-mayor Romeo Borja, Jr. who is accused of repeatedly raping an 18-year-old local beauty titlist last year.
Borja was accused by 18-year old 'Jasmin' of raping her on several occasions since June 2011.
'Jasmin,' 17 years old at the time, is 8-month old pregnant with Borja's alleged child.
Speaking at a news conference organized by Gabriela women's party list, 'Jasmin' said, in between sobs, that she wants justice for Borja's abuses.
"Gusto ko pong pagbayarin yung may gawa nito... gusto ko pong makulong siya," she said.
In her complaint affidavit, 'Jasmin' bared that she first met the respondent in April 2010 at a local beauty pageant she had joined.
She claimed Borja wanted to pursue her but she rejected him, knowing he is married.
Sometime in June 2011, 'Jasmin' said she had a round of drinks at a friend's house, and fell unconscious. The next thing she knew, she was being raped by Borja.
The incident was repeated several times as Borja threatened to harm her and her family, and also threatened to spread in social networking sites pictures of them performing the sexual act, she claimed.
'Jasmin' was accompanied by 'Mina,' who was also allegedly raped by Borja and has given birth to his child 3 months ago. 'Mina' used to work in Borja's household as yaya to one of his children.
"Andito po ako para suportahan ang laban ni 'Jasmin' sa pagsasampa ng kaso sa umabuso sa aming dalawa na si Vice-mayor Romeo Borja, Jr.," 'Mina' said.
Mina had filed qualified seduction charges against Borja at the Cabanatuan City Prosecutor's Office. The case is awaiting resolution.
Gabriela Reps. Luz Ilagan and Emmi De Jesus accompanied 'Jasmin' to the DOJ.
Speaking to reporters, Ilagan said 'power and wealth' possessed by sexual offenders should not preclude victims from reporting the crime and filing charges in the pursuit of justice.
"The rape and abuse of women in Pantabangan will continue with impunity and women will always live in fear as long as justice isn't served. Their assailants, powerful and wealthy as they and their families may be, must be made accountable for this heinous crime," Ilagan said.
"We must continue to rage against rape especially if the accused is a public official who abuses his power to inflict violence," she added.
For her part, De Jesus said as per Gabriela's experience, offenders "offer bribes, threaten families, destroy reputations and buy out judges."
"It will be an uphill struggle for 'Jasmin' and 'Mina' but we are ready to support them as well as other victims of rape who are ready to come out and seek justice," she said.
De Jesus said the first obstacle the victims have to hurdle is breaking the "culture of silence."
Gabriela suspects there are other victims of Borja's sexual abuses in Pantabangan and called on them to come forward.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, meantime, said she will study the possibility of placing 'Jasmin' and 'Mina' under the department's Witness Protection Program (WPP).